DR CONGO: Substandard institutions closed

Six university institutions in Katanga-Kalemie have been declared 'non viable' after a visit by the Minister for Higher Education, while 16 technical medical training institutes have been closed following a health ministry audit, according to newspaper reports.

Minister Mashako Mamba found on a visit that the six public and private university centres in Katanga-Kalemie lacked proper facilities, some held classes in primary schools or in buildings belonging to the civil service ministry. For a number of courses, including technology, medicine, public health and agronomy, only theoretical studies were possible because of lack of teaching materials, reported Le Potentiel of Kinshasa.

"The quality of teachers is unconfirmed. For the technology, medicine, agronomy, hospital sciences and the school of public health there are no teaching materials. So the training is purely theoretical, whatever the sector. There is no institution here which fulfils the minimum conditions to operate as an institution of higher education," Le Potentiel quoted the minister as saying.

The newspaper also cited the lack of end-of-course diplomas, bad management of computer facilities, resources and other equipment provided to some institutions by the government through the United Nations Development Programme as contributing to problems. It said Mashako intended to set up an inquiry into the viability of the schools concerned.

About 50 higher education institutions not accredited by the government operate in Katanga, added Le Potentiel. The 16 technical institutes of medicine were closed by Health Minister Mopipi Mukulumanya because they had not reached 24% of necessary standards laid down in a new strategy he had introduced, according to La Prospérité of Kinshasa.

The paper reported the schools had allegedly not adapted programmes to take account of the evolution of diseases, demography, the dearth of health facilities and inadequate number of nurses trained. The institutes' managements accused the health education directorate of closing the schools on subjective rather than objective grounds, some of which had been operating for over 15 years.

They claimed they had fulfilled their obligations to the state and feared the closures would have a "negative and destructive impact" on schools of health, given that there were only five state-run Institutes of Tropical Medicine throughout the country.